Gadhafi, Qaddafi, Qadhafi, Kaddafi the correct spelling of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's name has been a source of ongoing debate between news organizations for decades. The confusion exists because his name can be translated from Arabic to English in several different ways.
In fact, Gadhafi has so many different spellings that the Library of Congress lists 72 alternate spellings for his name. In 2009, abcnews.com compiled a list of 112 different ways that Gadhafi's name has been spelled in government documents and by news publications.
Gadhafi himself has been known to be confused over the proper spelling of his name. He spelled it as "Moammar El-Gadhafi" in a 1986 letter that he sent to a classroom in Minnesota, in response to a letter that the schoolchildren had mailed him. The letter was in English, with his signature in Arabic script over the typed English spelling. However, on Gadhafi's official personal website, algathafi.org, the leader spells his name as "Al Gathafi."
The various spellings of Gadhafi have emerged as the result of attempts to translate the name. There are several letters in the Arabic alphabet that represent sounds that just don't exist in the English language, and different transliteration systemsthe process used to spell foreign words more or less phoneticallyhave varying ways of attempting to create those sounds using the English alphabet.
On top of that, different news outlets have their own preferred way of spelling his name: The British newspaper The Guardian and Japan's Daily Yomiuri both use "Gaddafi," while the U.S.'s Wall Street Journal and the Canadian Toronto Star stick with the "Gadhafi" spelling. The Los Angeles Times chose to go with "Kadafi," and the New York Post prefers to spell it "Khadafy." The New York Times uses "Qaddafi."
But don't feel bad if you can't settle on one of the name's numerous spellings sometimes, even news organizations find it hard to keep their chosen spelling straight. In February 2011, MSNBC spelled the name as "Kadhafi" on the air, but as "Qaddafi" on their official Twitter account.
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